Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner
I've said this a number of times, but every week creates a different challenge, that's the great thing about this league. Getting ready for the Jets and watching them Monday night what they were able to do defensively again Miami, I've got great respect for Rex Ryan and what he does defensively, what they do as a defensive staff. They create a lot of different looks for offensive players, so this is a big week for us in terms of our preparation and it does create more challenges than we may have had over the last few weeks.
Q: How would you classify a Rex Ryan defense?
A: The whole thing with Rex (Ryan), is they're always very sound, and then they are very multiple, so they give you a lot of different looks. They create a lot of different looks. They're geared not to give up big plays. Early in the year they were giving up more big plays than usual. I say they're a very complete defense and they're going to adjust their defense to what they feel you have the toughest time handling.* *
Q: It seems as if the Jets take on Rex Ryan's personality, you seem laid back, have you tried to do that with your offense or your team as a whole?
A: I think it's all perception and I think our players understand where I'm coming from and what we're about. I don't think they would describe me as being laid back.
Q: Do you think Jerick McKinnon will be able to return this week?
A: I don't know. He wasn't able to do anything yesterday, so we'll just have to wait until the week is over.
Q: How difficult has it been to establish a running game over the course of the season?
A: One of the best things we've been able to do, I think, is create a run look, create some runs. Find different ways each week to manage the running game. I think that's helped us, it's helped us over the last five weeks, certainly. Over the last five weeks we've cut down our sacks dramatically, we've not turned the ball over. I think we have two turnovers in the last five games. We've cut down our sacks. During that three-week period, we had 19 sacks, over the last five weeks I think we've had 10 sacks. Some of those aren't protection issues, they're other issues. I think we just tried to manage the situation we have as well as we can, create some runs so people have to play us honestly.
Q: How do you think Mike Harris did in his first start?
A: I thought he did fine. He had a couple of issues on the edge that are fixable, more technique than they are his playing ability. It was nice having him. It's a challenge with him and Joe (Berger) on the right side, the combination of not having played together and they're not the starting guys.
Q: What's your evaluation of Joe Berger in his time as a starter?
A: I think Joe has done good the last stretch. That last period of time, he had a couple of tough plays in the Green Bay game. That's what happens. I know the perception that Teddy (Bridgewater) was better in this last week than he was against Green Bay and Chicago, I thought he's been good throughout the last five weeks, and I thought he actually played better in Green Bay than he did in Carolina. We had two or three plays, one of them you mention Joe, where he (Teddy Bridgewater) has a guy running wide open, it's going to be a big play, and the guy on Joe got pressure and knocked Teddy back. Those things didn't happen in Carolina, so it looked better. Joe's done good, considering the circumstances, as I'd say. He's had some tough matchups.
Q: Where is Ben Tate in his knowledge of the offense?
A: Every week is different. We're trying to get everybody involved. In the first quarter and half, we had 11 plays last week. When you block two punts for touchdowns, the other team gets to keep the ball and then we had a two-minute drive that Ben is not going to be in on a two-minute drive. We had an 11 play two-minute drive where we scored, so we had three possessions in the first half. I'd like to get all of our guys involved. Ben is getting ready, he played a little bit. He was a little bit loose with the ball, we've got to fix that. Because that's what I'm saying, the best things we're doing right now, is we're not turning the ball over, we've gotten better in protection and when we have opportunities we're making the most out of them.
Q: How much does the outside perception of a quarterback's play get dictated by the protection they get?
A: Not even protection, I think people see Teddy (Bridgewater) in the Green Bay game miss a couple of throws early and they start automatically, two throws, and there's something about accuracy. The throws he missed, I've seen him make 100 times in practice. The throw he made to Jarius (Wright) on the deep ball, it was a revelation. I've seen him make it from the beginning of training camp all through every day we come out and practice here. He can do all the things he needs to do to be an outstanding quarterback in this league. Like most young guys, there's going to be some ups and downs, but his lows have not been as low as a lot of young guys I've been around and he continues to get better.* *
Q: Do you sense any frustration from Cordarrelle Patterson?
A: I think anyone that is in a situation where he didn't play last week would be frustrated. Cordarrelle knows, he wasn't here all week. He missed Monday, Tuesday, which we don't a lot Monday, we have our meetings. He missed Wednesday and Thursday, he was out of town at a funeral. It's hard to get ready. We have a totally different game plan for Carolina. Then you combine it with blocking two punts in the first half, and us not really having the ball. I expect Cordarrelle to play and play like he has. CJ (Charles Johnson) is playing at a high level. CJ is the starter at X, that's the position Cordarrelle plays. We're going to do what we can to get him some opportunities to play there, but CJ is playing at a real high level right now.
Q: In your mind, does Cordarrelle Patterson have to work his way back into that position?
A: No. Because I don't think he's gone anywhere. I think we need to roll him in there and do the things that we've done throughout. He's had some bad luck. He's had some situations where he's been open and Teddy threw it somewhere else and he could have big plays. He's obviously had some situation where he's been open and we've missed him. Sometimes that the way it goes. He's doing the things we need him to do and he had an outstanding day at practice yesterday. I see him being a big-time player in this offense as we go forward.
Q: Do you view Charles Johnson as the starter at the X-receiver position?
A: He started last week and I think he's started the last two weeks.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Q: How do you account for the slippage in run defense?
A: I think it's not just one thing. We're working on things from tackling, making sure we're tackling, we're driving our feet on contact, misfits, to crack replace, so it's a culmination of things we feel like we've got to work on this week as far as going out and stopping the run, which is going to be our number one goal to go out and try to stop the run.
*Q: Is that pretty much all that you are talking about right now? *
A: Well no not all we're talking about. They've still got some guys outside, the speed outside matchup at receiver that you've definitely got to be concerned with. Last week was the first time they came out and really got back to what Rex [Ryan] had done early in his career with sort of the ground and pound. They came out and ran the ball for like 49 times last week. So from that aspect of it, looking at where we are we think we are going to get a heavy dose of the run this week.
Q: Percy Harvin has been involved in both the pass and run. How do you account for an offensive weapon like that?
A: You've got to be aware of where he is at. They are playing him at receiver, he's in the backfield playing running back, they've got him motioning coming across in a Wildcat so they've given him some different jobs within what they're trying to do, trying to give him as many touches as they can. From that aspect of it, we have to be alert of what he's in package wise and how they're trying to utilize his skillset whether he's out at receiver catching screens or coming across handing him the ball on a handsweep or in the backfield running the bellies. He runs strong after he gets the ball in his hands so we've got to do a good job on him and being alert to how they're using him and where he's at in each package.
*Q: Do you have to even look at some of his tape with Seattle or even here with the Vikings to see different ways they might use him? *
A: Again, they've sort of increased their role with him and what they've asked him to do from week to week. We definitely have to be conscious of the different ways that they'll institute him within the formation and how to use him with motion to get him the ball.
Q: Do you have to change any of your schemes to adjust to him or is it more about just stressing discipline?
A: I think it's more stressing discipline of where he's at and what they're trying to do offensively each week. They utilize their personnel differently from matchup to matchup so from that aspect of it we've just got to be conscious of what they're trying to do schematically against us really and what we're asking our guys to do.
Q: Where do you think Everson Griffen has made the biggest stride since this coaching staff arrived?
A: I think the one thing we saw with Griff coming in was a guy that played hard when he played. I think the biggest thing we've tried to press upon him if we can get that consistently throughout the season then the work that he puts in is going to pay off and I think that's what you see with him. Griff has really paid attention to the detail of the things that we've asked him to do. He comes to work every day, works hard, he takes it to the game on Sunday and he's able to go out there and perform at that high level and he's just been consistent throughout the whole season as far as that aspect of it, as far as coming and performing each Sunday at that level. It just carries over from week to week.
Q: Are there some things that you can do with him now that you weren't sure you could do with him when you got here?
A: I think we know him a lot better now than when we first came in from what we were asking him to do and him going out and actually doing it and seeing him doing it. I think the trust factor there has really grown a lot during the course of the season. What we're asking him to do and knowing the positions that we're going to put him in I think it's sort of been a two-fold situation of why it's developed the way that it has.
Q: How is Anthony Barr coming along?
A: He's day-to-day so we'll have to see how he does as we just keep progressing through the week.
Q: How much do you think the loss of him and Sharrif Floyd have hurt the run defense?
A: Well those are definitely two guys that could be an integral part of what we're doing. Both of them are very productive guys for us. So from that aspect of it, we definitely did miss him but like any other week, the next guy has got to come up and we're not looking for any dropoff. We're looking for the same attention to detail and those kind of things. We know players are going to be different and bring different skillsets to the game but from that aspect of it we expect the next guy up to come in and fill that role. For us to be successful that's what we have to do.
Q: Does the way that Rex Ryan is having the Jets run the ball, does that give a guy like Shamar Stephen more playing time even if Sharrif Floyd wasn't injured?
A: I'll tell you what, this kid has come in and from Week One starting off and again I think it goes back to the trust factor. The more we've played him in the run game, the better he's gotten. He's just stayed consistent throughout the course of the year so we have no problem putting him in there in the run to be able to play the run. From that aspect of it, his role has increased, his reps have increased and we've gone through the season and situational, whatever we're facing that week, so from that aspect of it we have good confidence that he'll keep being consistent as we work through the rest of the season.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Q: With a guy like Adam Thielen who probably hasn't played much special teams before he got here what is it like to get him up to speed on all of the special teams fundamentals like tackling?
A: The great thing about Adam is he had, what I call maybe, a redshirt year last year with the practice squad. He did all of the show teams for us a year ago so he worked on all of our fundamentals and techniques for an entire year. Any time our guys are on show team, unless there is a major difference that our opponent does that week, we normally have those guys use our fundamentals and techniques so he worked on them. You could tell as the year wore on last year he was getting more and more comfortable because to be honest with you his first year in training camp and in the preseason games he wasn't even close to where he is now and that's a tribute to him and all of his hard work and his paying attention and just doing the job.
*Q: Is there something you guys have to do with technique because he probably hasn't tackled much before getting here? *
A: Well we work on tackling. We do a lot of that especially in the spring and not full-cover tackling, but in terms of putting your body in position to make that tackle. The thing with Adam, and a lot of guys like Adam is you have to have a lot of want to run down on kickoff, to run down on punt, to be a guy that's going to throw your body around and be physical and tough. He's smart, he's instinctive, he's got a lot of toughness to him. He's a fun guy to work with, like a lot of our guys. It's been a pleasure to see him grow every week.
*Q: Do you anticipate that because of the two blocked punts that it might open up some opportunities for Marcus Sherels in the return game? *
A: It could. The punter gets the ball off quicker, maybe it's more of a line-drive kick. I think you go into every game a little bit different. We try to study every punter to see what his normal get-off time is, to see what his normal kick is with the wind, into the wind, crosswind, whatever the case may be, whatever situational punting that they have. We try to put Marcus in the best spot that we can and line him up at the exact yardage we feel like to put him position to be successful and putting pressure on the punter, I think that's going to help as well and hopefully it will down the stretch.
*Q: Is that as fun and complete of a special teams game that you've had? *
A: Yeah, I mean our guys did a great job. They were well prepared, they worked hard all week. We took advantage of our opportunities, which I was real proud of that, and like anything, this is kind of coach speak but you guys know me, there are still things we need to work on and we can't mishit a kickoff and it almost go out of bounds after the second block. One of Jeff [Locke's] punts went in the end zone. I thought he punted very well but he kicked another touchback and so those are the things we've got to continue to focus on. It's a lot easier, and I know coaches say this all of the time, but it's a lot easier to make corrections when you have a successful game than it is when you play poorly. Our guys are chomping at the bit to get back out there again on Sunday and let's keep this thing going.
*Q: How do you assess Jeff Locke's punting? *
A: He's better the last two weeks. I think we talked a couple of weeks ago how inconsistent he's been this year. I'll be honest with you – it's hard to punt in that stadium. You guys know how cold it was and it was windy and it was different winds at different altitudes. Our end zone where you come out of our tunnel in pregame, it was a nightmare; it was very difficult to punt from there. I was hoping we didn't have to punt out of that end zone. Putting up with the conditions, I think he's done a great job with that so far. Not a lot of punters would come into that situation with his attitude. I think that's helped him continue to get better as the year has gone on.
*Q: Is it the wind down in that end zone? *
A: It was the wind on Sunday. I'll be honest with you it's been really different every week, some similarities but there are some differences and it was very windy coming out of that end. You move out to the 30 and it's not as bad.
Q: How do you assess that Blair Walsh has been able to adapt so well and has been so consistent?
A: Well his attitude, his work ethic. He told everybody he's come back in better shape. He has taken care of his body differently than he has in the past. Like I've told you guys before, we sent Jeff and Blair down to TCF again yesterday for about an hour to get some work in. They've gone down there I think four or five weeks in a row and that is a huge advantage and I knew it would be because I've done it with kickers and punters throughout my whole career. To go down there, the wind, the cold, it was freezing again yesterday and it was windy and they got a lot of work in. They were hoping that we'd have those benches, the warming benches, didn't have those to keep those guys warm. I think his work ethic, his attitude, the way he's approached every game and knowing that it's going to be tough conditions, weather or field conditions, whatever the case may be. He's really responded well.
*Q: Where do you think he ranks among the long bombers of kickers? *
A: I think to me he's a top-5 kicker in this league, that's my opinion. The thing I do is I combine kickoffs and field goals – PATs, field goals and kickoffs, all three of them. To me he's one of the best in the league, if not the best.
Q: You didn't think it was skill how he hooked the ball around the pylon to avoid the touchback?
A: "You must be living right," that's what I told him. I said he was lucky. What was it 21-3 after that score and you give the ball at the 40-yard line, you give any offense the ball at the 40-yard line and you've got a great chance to score. We were pretty fortunate. It's the ups and downs of our business on game day. I had the splitting headache like I normally do Sunday night after the game but after I relaxed and reflected on a heck of a game I felt a little bit better.